Done right, an email drip campaign can make your sales and marketing strategies even more effective.
Done wrong, drip email campaigns will downright embarrass you.
I’m here to help you do things right.
Table of Contents
- What is an Email Drip Campaign?
- Why Use Drip Email Campaigns?
- Email Drip Campaign Best Practices
- 5 Email Drip Campaign Best Practices & Pro Tips
- Email Drip Campaign Example 1: Following up with a new customer
- Email Drip Campaign Example 2: Following up with a prospect
- Email Drip Campaign Example 3: A lead up to an event
- Email Drip Campaign Example 4: The free trial
- Email Drip Campaign Example 5: Cold email outreach
- How to Use Email Drip Campaign Examples and Templates
- Beyond the Email Drip Campaign
What is an Email Drip Campaign?
An email drip campaign is an automated series of emails that are sent to new leads, customers, or prospects with the goal of getting them to take an action.
Email drip campaigns are generally composed of a sequence of 3-10 emails, each geared toward nudging the recipient to take a desired conversion action, such as signing up for a free trial, downloading an eBook, registering for a webinar, or upgrading from a free trial to a paid subscription.
Email drip campaign software is typically used to design the sequence of emails and automatically send emails at defined intervals (for example, one email per recipient every 5 days).
Here are some common, popular email drip campaign software tools:
For more, see our list of the top email marketing tools. Here at EmailAnalytics, we use Intercom (that’s why I listed it first above).
Why Use Drip Email Campaigns?
Drip email campaigns are powerful because they enable you to establish familiarity with recipients through the mere exposure effect, and they allow you to be persistent.
Most salespeople and marketers give up after a couple of attempts. But a significant chunk of people will say “yes” only after saying “no” several times.
In other words, if you drop off too early, you’ll miss out on potential customers.
Drip email campaigns are also awesome because they can be automated. With the right tools, you can set and forget your drip email campaign—and let emails flow in response to triggers initiated by your prospects and customers.
Email Drip Campaign Best Practices
Of course, your drip email campaign isn’t going to be successful automatically.
So what is it that makes for an effective drip campaign?
- Defined objectives. First, you need defined objectives. What are you trying to achieve? And don’t say “sending more emails.” Every campaign needs to have a goal. And every email in that campaign needs to have a goal, even if it’s something simple like “introduce the brand” or “get a signup for a free trial.”
- Segments. Good campaigns also have segments. You should be segmenting your audience by intention, demographic, and other factors. If someone downloads an eBook, they should fall into a different branch of the drip campaign. If someone signs up for a free trial, they should fall into a different branch.
- Audience targeting. The same message doesn’t work for everyone. You’ll need a variety of different messages, meant to target specific audiences based on behavior, location, or other unique identifiers.
- The right frequency. If you send too many emails, you’ll be seen as spammy and annoying. That’s a bad look. But if you send too few, you may not get your message across or build brand familiarity.
- The right duration. You also have to send the right number of emails. I don’t know what that number is for you, since it varies by company and by goal. But the number is more than 2, and it’s probably less than 10.
- The right timing. These factors should all be grouped together, since they’re interrelated. But you’ll also need to think about timing. Wait at least a day between emails, and preferably a few days (i.e., don’t send 20 emails a day like a madman). But at the same time, don’t wait too long, or your prospect may forget about you.
- Great subject lines. I know we talk a lot about the importance of subject lines in email sales and marketing. But it’s worth it! I promise! Subject lines may very well be the most important element of your email. So spend time perfecting them!
- Escalation (to a degree). Introductory emails in a drip campaign should be mild, unassuming, and low pressure. Over time, your emails should escalate—to a degree. You never want to pressure or bully a prospect, but you should be a little more direct in your CTAs.
- Past references. Your drip emails shouldn’t come out of nowhere. They should tie back to the messages you’ve sent in the past. For example, in one email, you may introduce prospects to an eBook, webinar, or another piece of content. An email in the future may follow up and ask those prospects what they thought about your content.
- Measurement and analysis. One of the most important factors for your success is your ability to measure and analyze your results. Experiment with different variables to see how your results change. Should you keep these changes or try something else? Is your campaign even working? Is this even real life? The right tools can help you with everything but that last one.
5 Email Drip Campaign Best Practices & Pro Tips
I’ve sent a lot of drip emails and tinkered with dozens of campaigns. Here are some tips for success that I’ve learned along the way!
1. Keep it simple. Be a human.
People are more likely to respond positively to emails that look like they were sent by an actual human who actually typed the email. Avoid using fancy HTML formatting, fancy images, or anything else your design team thinks looks good. Just use simple text with no formatting.
Feel free to use GIFs in your emails, though – they inject personality in your emails and help them stand out! Here’s an example of the first email in a cold outreach sequence that I like to use, starring my dog, which people LOVE! It’s not a GIF, but it conveys that I’m a real human. And how can anyone resist the cuteness of my dog? 😀
2. The “From” line matters a LOT
Your “from” line should reflect an actual email address that looks real. Not something like Jayson.email@example.com. No, you need to use a real email address that passes the eye test.
Furthermore, your “from” line should read like a real person’s would. For instance, instead of using “Jayson from EmailAnalytics” I’ve found that it’s MUCH more effective to simply use “Jayson DeMers”.
3. Keep it short.
Nobody has time to read long emails, these days. Keep your emails a few sentences, at most.
4. Let people respond directly to your drip emails.
Don’t send drip emails from an @noreply email address. Let them reply directly to your emails, and when they do, answer them – by a real human!
5. Be authentic.
Everyone is sending drip emails. To make sure yours stand a chance of being read before they’re deleted, inject some personality into them. Don’t just be another brick in the wall – be a yellow brick in a red wall!
Email Drip Campaign Example 1: Following up with a new customer
This drip campaign is designed to follow up with someone who has already expressed interest in a service (or signed up entirely). Its goal is to provide users with content, which can guide them through the next steps of the conversion process.
Subject: Thanks for joining! What’s next?
You signed up for [brand] last week. Welcome to the community!
I wanted to follow up on my first email with some helpful resources you can use to learn more:[links to resources]
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.
In the meantime, what do you think of [brand]?
Short and sweet, this email functions as a simple welcome and an offer of new material.
Subject: A new webinar on [topic]!
Thanks again for signing up for [brand].
We love to keep our users up-to-date on the latest information. That’s why we’re offering a new webinar on [topic] this [date/time info]!
Sign up today to reserve your slot, or let me know if you have any questions!
This email escalates things slightly by inviting the user to participate, rather than passively downloading or reading content.
Subject: Our latest eBook on [topic]
I hope you’ve had a chance to check out the content we sent your way. There’s certainly plenty to explore!
I wanted to share something that more than 20,000 people have found valuable—our latest eBook on [topic]. It’s completely free—and after reading it, you could boost sales by 20 percent or more! [or another statistic]
You can download it here. But only for a limited time!
This email leads users to a piece of premium content, capping off your previous offers.
From there, you can rope the user into an email newsletter or push harder for conversions (though if they’re already subscribed, no conversion is necessary).
Email Drip Campaign Example 2: Following up with a prospect
Let’s say someone signs up to download a premium piece of content you offered on a landing page. This person is now officially a prospect.
The right drip email campaign can bring them around and persuade them to convert.
Subject: Thanks for downloading our eBook!
I just wanted to reach out and say thanks for downloading our latest eBook.
Did you know that [brand] has helped more than 50,000 customers improve their productivity?
If you have any questions about our book, our services, or our brand overall, don’t hesitate to reach out.
This email is a simple welcome that thanks the prospect and keeps your brand top of mind.
Subject: What did you think?
Have you gotten a chance to read our eBook? If so, what did you think?
One of our biggest findings is that our customers struggle with productivity. Are you satisfied with your current productivity?
Another simple follow-up with a cursory invitation for further discussion—and possibly an opportunity to close the sale.
Subject: 20 percent boost in productivity
Hi [name],[Brand] has helped thousands of people improve their productivity by 20 percent or more. You can see some of their stories on our Testimonials page!
Are you ready to transform your workplace?
We can help
Everything starts with a free analysis. Schedule your free consultation, or reach out to me directly with any questions you have!
This email leads with a compelling subject line and pushes harder for a conversion.
EmailAnalytics Visualizes Your Team's Email Activity
- 35-50% of sales go to the first-responding vendor.
- Following up within an hour increases your chances of success by 7x.
- Salespeople spend an average of 13 hours per week on email.
Subject: Is this… goodbye?
I haven’t heard from you in a while. No worries—I know you’re busy—but if you get the chance, I’d love to talk with you about [subject]. No strings attached! I just want to learn more about you and your company.
If you’re not interested in hearing further from me, just let me know.
This should probably function as the “breakup” email. If you don’t hear back, it’s time to move on. We’re playing to peoples’ sense of loss aversion with this one.
Email Drip Campaign Example 3: A lead up to an event
Events like tradeshows, seminars, and even webinars can be a big deal. You don’t want people to forget about the event.
Subject: Thanks for registering!
Thanks for registering for our [event]!
As a reminder, here are the details:[details]
Looking forward to seeing you there! In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
Again, this is a simple welcome email that reminds users of the event and invites them to engage further.
Subject: It’s getting closer…
Just a reminder that our [event] is coming up!
Next week, we’ll be [description of events].
If you need to change your registration, here’s where to go: [website]
Otherwise, feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions.
You can send this one about a week out from the event. You may even send multiple emails leading up to the event, depending on how early you collect registrations.
Subject: Reminder: [event] is tomorrow!
We hope you’re as excited as we are! [Event] is tomorrow, at long last.[Details]
Remember to get there early to save yourself a seat.
And if you need anything else, let me know!
This is designed to be sent as a final reminder, the day before the big event. You may also wish to include a call-to-action.
Email Drip Campaign Example 4: The free trial
Next up, we have a basic drip email campaign meant to help people sort out their feelings about free trials.
Subject: Welcome to [brand]!
Thanks for signing up for a free trial of [brand]—you won’t be disappointed!
Used by more than 40,000 people, [brand] is the trusted leader in [industry].
But we’re also a strong community. If you have any issues, feel free to check out our user forums, or just reach out to me directly!
I’m here to help.
In the meantime, have fun and good luck!
Many of these introductory emails are similar—and that’s for good reason. You have to start simple.
Subject: Checking in
You’re a week into your free trial, so I wanted to reach out and see what you thought so far!
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you free for a call this week?
In the meantime, drop me a line if you have any questions!
Wait at least a few days before sending this. You want to give your prospect plenty of time to form an opinion.
Subject: Your free trial
Your free trial is almost up. Are you ready to get even more out of [brand]?
We have several plans available, including [plan information].
And if you’re wondering how to better use our platform, be sure to check out our forums!
In any case, I’d love to schedule a call this week to talk about your experience with [brand]. Are you available this Tuesday at 11?
This is a great way to close out the free trial—and hopefully, lead into a full subscription.
Email Drip Campaign Example 5: Cold email outreach
Cold emails can be tricky. Your prospects don’t know your brand very well—if at all—so they might be standoffish.
Still, the potential benefits of a cold email outreach campaign can be crazy. Let’s take on the challenge.
Subject: Introducing myself
Have you heard of [brand]? We’re a new name in [industry] and we can help you [product/service pitch].
We’ve helped more than 40,000 customers [more statistics…].
Are you interested in learning more? Let’s schedule a call!
Otherwise, feel free to check out our latest eBook here.
Be careful not to make the subject line too clunky here. The core idea is to introduce your brand as concisely as possible.
Subject: RE: Introducing myself
Just checking in to see if you got my last email. Do you currently have a way to monitor your team’s email productivity?
This is short and to the point, which most recipients will appreciate.
I only recommend one follow-up email when conducting cold email outreach, because the last thing you want to do is annoy people and make them report you for spam. If too many people do it, it’ll get your email account blacklisted.
When someone has opted-in to your email list, it’s totally appropriate to send more than one follow-up email. But for cold outreach, I leave it at a single follow-up.
For more information on cold emailing, make sure to check out our guide!
How to Use Email Drip Campaign Examples and Templates
Feel free to use any of the examples and templates in this guide—I’ve even left spaces for you to elaborate upon or modify as you see fit.
But remember, part of your success depends on your originality.
In other words, don’t simply jank a template that you found online.
Instead, spend some time crafting your own unique message, with your own signature approach to frequency and timing.
And for God’s sake, experiment and measure your results!
Beyond the Email Drip Campaign
Awesome drip campaigns will lead to awesome marketing and sales results.
But drip campaigns aren’t everything.
See, you’re likely using email at every stage of your sales process—not to mention throughout your daily life.
Are you sure you’re using it well?
EmailAnalytics can help you find out. You’ll learn essential email productivity stats about your email habits like email response time, emails sent, emails received, busiest days of the week, busiest times of day, and much more.
Sign up for a free trial of EmailAnalytics and see for yourself!
P.S. — when you sign up for a free trial of EmailAnalytics you’ll be dropped into our email drip campaign. Check it out and see what we’re doing for more ideas!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.